Transport yourself to Italy with my plancha grilled vegetables served with a drizzle of pesto and an olive and thyme flatbread on the side.
The secret to success is not to have the plancha too hot because your want the vegetables to cook relatively slowly yet get great colour from the ribbed side of the plancha. Have the plancha too hot and you can burn the veggies which will give them a bitter flavour before the inside is cooked.
I was using my Monolith ceramic grill with the plancha ribbed side up sitting on the grill grate over direct coals. With the lid down my grill was running at approximately 125°C which I found to be perfect for getting the brown sear marks on my plancha grilled vegetables while still giving them enough time to cook through.
The actual cooking process is really easy but there are a few preparatory steps to go through so this isn't a super quick recipe but when you've got the olive oil and pesto drizzled over you'll know that it was worth the wait.
I also have to give credit where due - my influence for the flatbreads actually comes from a vegan BBQ recipes site.
To make things easy, I'll write the plancha grilled vegetables recipe out in chronological order so that you can follow the method from start to finish rather than have to skip back and forth and work out in which order to do things.
There are 5 steps:
Serves:- 4 people
Preparation Time:- 2 hours
Cooking Time:- 30 minutes
Total Time:- 2 hours 30 minutes
The only allergen in this recipe is nuts.
Put all the ingredients into a blender and give it a whizz. Add a little more seasoning if required.
Note: You have the option to prepare your own fire roasted red peppers from scratch or if short on time you can buy them.
Take the tops off the aubergines and courgettes then slice them longitudinally, the aubergines being about ½cm (¼") thick and the courgettes a little thinner.
Lay the slices in a colander and sprinkle each layer with a little of the salt - this will leech out some moisture from the veggies and bring out any bitterness too so leave the colander in the sink.
Place you whole red peppers over hot coals and turn regularly. You'll see the skin to blacken and the flesh to soften.
When done place the peppers in a plastic zip lock bag and allow to cool. They will sweat in the bag and the skin will blister.
When cool, remove from the bag and peel off all the black (bitter) skin to leave you with lovely soft sweet red pepper flesh.
Rinse the aubergine and courgette slices under cold water to get rid of the salt and then your veggies are ready for the plancha.
Pour the flour out onto a clean work surface, make a well in the middle and add half of the warm water.
Add the yeast, sugar and fine salt to the water and mix with a fork to dissolve. When done, use the fork to gently push the flour into the water taking care that none of the water escapes. Once the mixture in the middle has thickened up to a gloopy consistency, add the rest of the water bit by bit and combine with the flour to make the dough.
Knead the dough for a 5 - 10 minutes to work the gluten and make it stretchy and smooth. When done place the dough in an earthenware bowl, cover with stretch wrap and place in a warm area to prove. It should double in size in about 30 minutes.
Place a pre-oiled plancha ribbed side up over a gentle direct heat and then cook your vegetable slices until soft.
Each side will take between 5 - 7 minutes to cook and produce beautiful sear lines for caramelisation and colour.
When cooked, lay out your plancha grilled vegetables on a board and drizzle over the pesto dressing.
In typical Mediterranean style, I like to serve the plancha grilled vegetables lukewarm so now is the perfect time to crank up the heat and cook the flatbreads.
If cooking on a barbecue with a lid, get the internal temperature up to about 180-200°C (350-390°F).
Take a hunk of dough and on a floured surface, roll out until about 1cm (½") thick and don't worry about the shape.
Brush both sides with some olive oil, sprinkle on a bit of sea salt and then it's straight onto the grill over direct heat for a couple of minutes on each side.
When cooked, garnish your flat breads with sea salt crystals and more olive oil if desired or indeed the pesto dressing.
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